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The opinions stated here in this ‘blog or elsewhere on my web site are my own. Any or all facts (real or imagined) are typically presented from my personal point of view. Furthermore these facts and opinions do not necessarily represent or even agree with those of my family, my employer, the US Government, any other organization, or entity (real or imagined). Any similarity (real or imagined) to other individuals, animals, places, items or concepts is purely coincidental.


Idea: Reusable Automated Space Transport and Return System 

I read a recent article on the Rendezvous and Escape tests of ESA's ATV, Jules Verne. This got me thinking again about how I would design a shuttle replacement system. So I opened up a vector graphics program, Scribus (which I think is actually trying to be a desktop publishing program) and started jotting down my ideas. While the tools left something to be desired, the results turned our reasonably well. The biggest problem were that the text editing in Scribus seems very broken and there wasn't any for me to spell check.

Anyway I've uploaded the resulting PDF with my ideas for the Reusable Automated Space Transport and Return System [RASTRS].


Taxes are Done! 

Time: Start to finish (minus stamp and dropping in mailbox) , 40 minutes.
Results: Refund of $74.37.

Once again my simple filing status means that my withholdings are close to, and just slightly more then my actual tax liability. Which is just about the way that I want it. Since I moved last year and never received my form packet from the IRS, I just downloaded the 1040ez form and instructions off the web, used Adobe Reader to fill it in and an spreadsheet to do the computations. The most time consuming single task was printing out the envelope, as the 1040ez instructions kept giving me garbage when I tried to copy the IRS address.

If I could e-file online at the website, or by clicking a button on the 1040ez PDF, I would have done so. But finding a provider, setting up an account, and entering the information would have taken too much effort for what it would have been worth. If the IRS really wants to get away from the manual data entry they really need to eliminate the middlemen and directly accept e-filings through their website.


AVA Annual Meeting 

I had a good and productive time at the American Vaulting Association's Annual Meeting, held this past weekend in Cupertino, CA.  I attended many committee meetings, both the board meeting and the general membership meeting, as well as a couple of training sessions (Tom Oakes' on using the AVA's CompWeb and Nancy Stevens-Brown's on using digital photography as a coaching tool).  I volunteered to serve on the AVA's competitions committee (because I manage a competition that is very different from most) and to serve as the leader of the Membership Sub-committee on Contests for Vaulting World and the AVA Website(s).

I also attended the AVA's annual awards and recognition banquet. A few Region III vaulters were recognized for their outstanding performance during the 2007 competition year. 

Per a request from the AVA's VP of membership, I delayed my flight plans home so that I could attend a meeting Monday morning with the AVA's website developers.  The AVA is very impressed with what we have been doing with the, and websites and would like to use them as prototypes for future development (two or three years out) of the AVA's websites.

My changed plans had me arriving back into Sea-Tac about 7:30 PM.  My Alaska flight from San Jose arrived into Portland early, and I could have caught the 6:00 PM Horizon shuttle to Seattle. However I opted to wait for my scheduled (6:30PM) shuttle flight because I had checked a bag that probably wouldn't have mad the earlier flight and I preferred to wait air-side in Portland and grab some dinner then at baggage claim in Seattle where there are few services. 

The 6:30 PM shuttle flight (Horizon Air 2496) actually left five minutes early and arrived at Sea-Tac a few minutes after seven.  I was impressed with the speed, efficiency and level of service provided on what is essentially a shuttle service between Seattle and Portland.  It was one of the best air travel experiences I've had in years.

Also my favorite airport parking service, ExtraCar, again did a nice and convenient job at a good price.


Report from the AVA Annual Meeting 

This is my frist time attending the AVA's annual meeting, and it has been interesting and productive.  The only news items to really report are from the competitions committes and the technical committee.
From the competitions committee, it sounds like the USEF/AVA National Championships in 2009 will be rather early (second weekend of July?) to be part of a larger multi-dicipline event that will test the facilities for the World Equestrian Games in 2010.  From the Technical committee it looks like the rest of the country will be following our lead and will make all individual barrel classes 60 seconds.  Also Individual Trot will promoted from the Appendix A of the Guidelines into the "Rules for Vaulting" and become an AVA Recognized Event.  All of the above still needs to be approved by the Board of Directors and/or the general membership meetings (today and tomorrow) before they are actually approved.
Other news out of our regional meeting, it looks like we might have a regional championships either the second or third weekend of July at Trails End Arena in Olympia (same place as Spring Fest.)
So far I've managed to avoid taking on any additional responsibilities, except for chairing the "Membership Subcommittee on Vaulting World & Website Contests".  I also got asked to attend a meeting on Monday morning with our VP of membership and the company that manages the AVA website.
I hope to see all the Cascade Vaulters on Wednesday and others next weekend at the NW Spirit of Vaulting Conference.

     Tom Sayles
     Head Coach, Cascade Vaulters